Anna’s Hummingbird green, brown, and red with a red crown as shown below.
- Appearance: Anna’s Hummingbirds measure around 3.5 to 4 inches (9 to 10 cm) in length and have a wingspan of approximately 4.6 inches (12 cm). Males have a brilliant iridescent reddish-pink throat patch (gorget) and crown, while their back and tail are greenish. Females have a greenish back and white underparts, with some iridescent reddish-pink spotting on their throat.
- Distribution: Anna’s Hummingbirds are native to the western coast of North America, ranging from southern Alaska to Baja California, Mexico. They inhabit a variety of habitats, including coastal areas, chaparral, open woodlands, and gardens.
- Diet: Like other hummingbirds, Anna’s Hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar from flowers, providing them with the energy they need for their high metabolism. They also eat insects and spiders for protein, often catching them in mid-air or picking them off of plants.These birds consume nectar as their primary energy source, which consists mostly of sugar. They consume approximately 50% of their body weight in sugar daily.Assuming a 4-gram Anna’s Hummingbird requires 2 grams (2000 mg) of sugar per day, and considering that there are 4 calories per gram of sugar, the bird would need to consume approximately 8 calories per day from sugar. Anna’s Hummingbirds feed on the nectar of various flowers, including trumpet-shaped and tubular flowers. Anna’s Hummingbirds catch and eat small insects, such as flies, gnats, and mosquitoes, as well as spiders and other small arthropods. They like the sap of trees, especially during periods when nectar is scarce. Anna’s Hummingbirds have been observed feeding on the juice of fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and berries. They will consume sugar water from feeders that are commonly used by bird enthusiasts. Although hummingbirds do not typically rely on pollen for their diet, they may inadvertently consume some while feeding on nectar.
- Migration: Anna’s Hummingbirds are unique among North American hummingbirds because they are mostly year-round residents in their range. Some individuals may move short distances to find food, especially during the winter months, but they generally do not engage in long-distance migration like other hummingbird species.
- Nesting: Female Anna’s Hummingbirds build tiny cup-shaped nests using plant materials, such as moss and lichen, bound together with spider silk. They usually lay two white eggs, which they incubate for about 14-19 days. After hatching, the chicks are fed by the mother and fledge in about 18-26 days.
- Courtship display: Male Anna’s Hummingbirds perform an impressive aerial courtship display to attract females. They fly in a U-shaped pattern, climbing high into the air before diving towards the ground and emitting a loud chirp at the bottom of their dive, created by air passing through their tail feathers.
- Lifespan: They have an average lifespan of 4 years in the wild, but they can live longer under favorable conditions. Their survival is influenced by factors such as predation, disease, and food availability.
- Conservation status: Anna’s Hummingbirds are listed as a species of “Least Concern” by the IUCN Red List.
They feed on nectar.
Q: What do Anna’s Hummingbirds eat? A: They have a sweet tooth – or beak – for nectar from flowers. They also eat insects and spiders, providing a bit of protein to balance their sugary diet. Think of them as tiny, flying insectivores that also enjoy floral smoothies.
Q: Do Anna’s Hummingbirds migrate? A: Interestingly, Anna’s Hummingbirds are less migratory compared to other hummingbird species. While they may adjust their range slightly in response to food availability and weather, they tend to stay in the same general area year-round. They’re like the homebodies of the hummingbird world.
Q: What are some unique behaviors of Anna’s Hummingbirds? A: Male Anna’s Hummingbirds perform a fascinating mating display that involves flying up to 130 feet in the air and then diving down at high speed while making a loud “squeak” sound. Talk about going all out to impress a date!
Q: How can I attract Anna’s Hummingbirds to my garden? A: Planting native flowers, especially those with tubular shapes and red or orange colors, can attract Anna’s Hummingbirds. You can also set up a hummingbird feeder filled with a solution of one part white sugar to four parts water. Just remember to clean it regularly to prevent fungal growth.
Q: How can I attract Anna’s Hummingbirds to my garden? A: Well, you could try playing some smooth jazz, but they’d probably prefer flowers and feeders. Anna’s Hummingbirds are partial to red and tubular flowers filled with sweet, sweet nectar. If your thumbs are more brown than green, no worries! You can hang a hummingbird feeder filled with a sugar-water mix (1 part sugar, 4 parts water). Just remember to change the solution and clean the feeder every few days to avoid bacteria and mold – hummingbirds are not fans of spoiled food.
Q: Do Anna’s Hummingbirds have a particular song? A: Indeed, they do. If Beethoven was a bird, he’d probably wish he’d composed the Anna’s Hummingbird song. Males sing a series of squeaky, scratchy sounds that wouldn’t make the top 40 on human radio but are all the rage in the hummingbird world.
Q: Can I record the song of an Anna’s Hummingbird? A: You can try, but be warned: they’re not known for their cooperative behavior when it comes to studio recording sessions. Jokes aside, with a good microphone and a quiet environment, you could capture their songs. Just remember not to disturb them in the process. Nobody, not even a hummingbird, likes a paparazzo during a performance.
Q: Do they sing all year long or only during a specific season? A: Male Anna’s Hummingbirds sing mostly during the breeding season, which is typically from December through May. Outside of that, they’re less vocal, probably resting their vocal cords for the next big season. After all, even tiny rock stars need a break.
Q: Are there any special tricks to keep them around my garden longer? A: Apart from offering a steady supply of food, try providing a water source like a mister or a shallow bird bath. Also, planting native plants that attract insects can be helpful, as these birds also eat small insects. And avoid using pesticides – hummingbirds are organic food enthusiasts.
Q: Why do Anna’s Hummingbirds hover while they feed? A: Hovering is their party trick, the one they’ve got down to perfection. This ability allows them to access food sources on the move and they don’t need to worry about a landing spot. They’re like the helicopters of the bird world – landing pads? Who needs ’em!
Q: Are Anna’s Hummingbirds territorial? A: Indeed, they are! Both males and females defend their feeding territories fiercely. They’re small, but they’ve got the heart of a lion when it comes to protecting what’s theirs. If hummingbirds had a motto, it’d be “Mess with my feeder, deal with my speeder!”
Q: What’s their favorite type of nectar? A: Anna’s Hummingbirds aren’t fussy eaters and they don’t hold blind taste-tests for their nectar. They are happy with the nectar from a variety of flowers, and of course, sugar-water from feeders. It’s like they live by the “don’t worry, be happy” motto – as long as it’s sweet and energy-rich, they’re good.
Q: How often do they need to eat? A: Constantly. Like all hummingbirds, Anna’s Hummingbirds have an incredibly fast metabolism that requires them to eat frequently. Imagine having to consume half your body weight in food every day – it’s like being on a see-food diet, they see food, they eat it!
Q: Do they sleep or rest? A: They do! Anna’s Hummingbirds, like most birds, sleep at night. They enter a state of torpor, reducing their metabolic rate to save energy. If they were humans, they’d probably enjoy lounging on a mini hammock, basking in the glory of their successful day.
Q: What’s the lifespan of an Anna’s Hummingbird? A: The oldest known Anna’s Hummingbird lived to be 8.1 years old. But this is the exception, not the rule. Many don’t survive their first year, thanks to predators, disease, and accidents. It’s a bit like living in a suspense thriller – every day is a new adventure.
Q: How do Anna’s Hummingbirds survive cold weather? A: By going into torpor at night, they lower their body temperature, slow their heart rate, and conserve energy. It’s kind of like their version of hibernation, but on a daily basis. Who needs a warm blanket and hot cocoa when you can literally lower your body temperature?
Q: Do Anna’s Hummingbirds mate for life? A: Not quite. These birds are more the love-’em-and-leave-’em type. Males don’t stick around after mating. In fact, they often go off and court other females. They’re basically the playboys of the bird world.
Q: How can I tell a male Anna’s Hummingbird from a female? A: Males are the show-offs with the bright, iridescent red-pink feathers on their heads and throats, while females are more modest, with greenish-grey feathers and maybe a spot of red on the throat. It’s as though males are dressed for a glam rock concert while the females prefer a more casual, understated look.
Q: How fast can Anna’s Hummingbirds fly? A: They’ve been clocked at speeds up to 30 miles per hour, and during their courtship dives, they can reach up to 60 miles per hour. And you thought your bicycle was fast! They are one of the fastest animals in the world.
Ways you can attract them:
- Install hummingbird feeders: Place hummingbird feeders filled with a sugar-water solution (1 part sugar to 4 parts water) around your yard. Make sure to clean the feeders regularly (every 3 days) to prevent mold and fermentation, which can be harmful to the birds.
- Plant nectar-rich flowers: Hummingbirds are naturally attracted to brightly colored, tubular flowers that produce nectar. Plant flowers like trumpet vine, bee balm, salvia, fuchsia, and lupine to provide natural food sources.
- Provide a water source: Hummingbirds need fresh water for drinking and bathing. Consider adding a shallow birdbath, fountain, or mister to your garden to create a water source. Make sure to keep the water clean and fresh.
- Create perching spots: Hummingbirds like to perch on branches or other structures to rest and survey their surroundings. Provide small branches or install perching rods in your garden to give them a place to rest.
- Avoid pesticides: Pesticides can be harmful to hummingbirds and reduce the number of insects they feed on. Opt for organic gardening methods to create a safe environment for these birds.
- Plant native species: Native plants are better adapted to your local environment and often provide better nectar sources for hummingbirds. Plant a diverse array of native flowering species to support a healthy ecosystem.
- Provide nesting materials: They use plant materials like moss, lichen, and spider silk to build their nests. Encourage nesting by leaving these materials available in your garden.
- Costa’s Hummingbirds: Costa’s Hummingbirds have a similar size and shape to Anna’s Hummingbirds, but they have a more distinct violet crown and throat in males. Females of both species look quite similar, with green upperparts and grayish-white underparts.
- Ruby-throated Hummingbirds: Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have a similar size and body shape to Anna’s Hummingbirds, but their range doesn’t overlap naturally. Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have a bright red throat instead of the rose-colored throat of the male Anna’s Hummingbird.
- Rufous Hummingbirds: Rufous Hummingbirds have a similar size to Anna’s Hummingbirds, but they are more orange-brown in color. Male Rufous Hummingbirds have an orange-red throat and a bright rufous color on their back and sides. Female Rufous Hummingbirds can be more challenging to differentiate from female Anna’s Hummingbirds but have a more extensive rufous color on their sides and tail.
- Black-chinned Hummingbirds: Black-chinned Hummingbirds have a similar size and shape to Anna’s Hummingbirds, but the males have a black throat with a violet band at the bottom, rather than the rose-colored throat of the male Anna’s Hummingbird. Females of both species can be harder to differentiate but can be distinguished by subtle differences in tail feather patterns.
- Specialized feeding habits: Hummingbirds have long, slender bills and extendable, tube-like tongues that allow them to access nectar deep within tubular flowers. As they hover in front of a flower and insert their bill, their head comes into contact with the flower’s reproductive structures.
- Pollen transfer: When a hummingbird visits a flower to feed on nectar, pollen from the flower’s anther sticks to the bird’s head, neck, and bill. As the hummingbird moves to another flower, some of the pollen rubs off onto the stigma, enabling pollination.
- Mutualism: The relationship between hummingbirds and the plants they pollinate is an example of mutualism, a type of symbiosis where both organisms benefit. Hummingbirds receive a high-energy food source in the form of nectar, while the plants get their pollen transported, ensuring their reproduction and survival.
- Adaptations in plants: Many flowering plants have evolved specific adaptations to attract hummingbirds as pollinators. These adaptations include brightly colored, tubular flowers, a high nectar production rate, and flower structures that provide a good perch or support for hovering hummingbirds.
- Impact on plant diversity: Hummingbirds help maintain and increase plant diversity by pollinating a wide range of flowering plants. This diversity is essential for the health of ecosystems and supports other wildlife that depends on these plants for food and shelter.
Anatomy and Physiology of these incredible tiny birds:
- Flying: Hummingbirds have a ball-and-socket joint at their shoulder, allowing them to rotate their wings in a full circle. This unique joint enables them to hover, fly forwards, backwards, and even upside down. They can also beat their wings incredibly fast, up to 80 times per second in some species, which generates lift on both the upstroke and downstroke, allowing them to hover in place.
- Metabolism: Hummingbirds have the highest metabolism of any bird species, with a heart rate that can exceed 1,200 beats per minute and a respiration rate of around 250 breaths per minute. Their high metabolism allows them to generate the energy needed for their rapid wing beats and hovering flight.
- Energy efficiency: Despite their high metabolism, hummingbirds are incredibly energy-efficient. They have a high number of mitochondria in their muscle cells, which allows them to convert energy from food into ATP (adenosine triphosphate) rapidly. They can also enter a state called torpor during the night or periods of inactivity to conserve energy. In torpor, their heart rate and metabolic rate significantly decrease, reducing their energy requirements by up to 95%.
- Specialized bill and tongue: The long, slender bill and extendable, tube-like tongue of hummingbirds allow them to access nectar deep within tubular flowers. The tongue is bifurcated (forked) at the tip, and its edges have tiny, hair-like structures called lamellae that help to draw nectar into the mouth through capillary action.
- Vision: Hummingbirds have exceptional vision, with a high number of photoreceptor cells in their retinas that enable them to see a wide range of colors, including those in the ultraviolet spectrum. This ability helps them locate and identify nectar-rich flowers.
- Highly developed pectoral muscles: Hummingbirds have a large pectoralis major muscle that makes up about 30% of their body weight, providing the power needed for their rapid wing beats and agile flight.
- Unique skeletal structure: Hummingbirds have a lightweight, hollow skeletal structure that helps minimize their overall body weight, allowing for better maneuverability and energy efficiency in flight.
Compare to House Finch:
- Size and Shape: Hummingbirds are small birds, typically ranging from 3-5 inches in length and weighing between 2-20 grams, depending on the species. House finches, on the other hand, are medium-sized birds, averaging around 5-6 inches in length and weighing between 16-27 grams. Hummingbirds have long, slender bills and wings, which they use for hovering and rapid flight, while house finches have shorter bills and more robust bodies, which allow them to perch and maneuver more easily on tree branches and feeders.
- Feeding Habits: Hummingbirds feed primarily on nectar from flowers, which they extract with their long, tubular bills and forked tongues. They also consume small insects and spiders for protein. House finches are seed-eating birds, and they prefer to feed on a variety of seeds, including sunflower, millet, and thistle, as well as fruits and berries.
- Flight Capabilities: Hummingbirds are well-known for their incredible aerial acrobatics and hovering abilities, thanks to their unique wing structure and rapid wing beats. House finches, while more agile in the air than some bird species, cannot hover like hummingbirds and generally fly more slowly.
- Plumage: Hummingbirds are famous for their vibrant, iridescent plumage, which can appear in a range of colors, including bright greens, blues, reds, and purples, depending on the species and the angle of the light. House finches have more muted plumage, with brownish-red feathers on their head, breast, and back, and streaks of brown and gray on their wings and tail.